Signe Darpinian

Signe Darpinian, LMFT, CEDS-S

Website: www.signedarpinian.com

Book: www.signedarpinian.com/no-weigh

Instagram: @noweighguide

Podcast interviews: www.signedarpinian.com/speaking-events

Short Bio: 

Signe Darpinian is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Certified Eating Disorders Specialist iaedp™ Approved Supervisor (CEDS-S). She is also a public speaker and a co-author of No Weigh! A Teen’s Guide to Positive Body Image, Food, and Emotional Wisdom with Jessica Kingsley Publishers in London. Signe has been treating eating disorders for over 15 years and has private practice offices in two California locations: The Central Valley  and The SF Bay Area. She is also the President of the International Association of Eating Disorders Professionals SF Bay Area Chapter and she serves on The Body Positive Partnership Council.

What is your current position? 

I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Certified Eating Disorders Specialist iaedp™ Approved Supervisor (CEDS-S) in private practice. I have offices in two California locations: The Central Valley  and The SF Bay Area. I am also a co-author No Weigh! A Teen’s Guide to Positive Body Image, Food, and Emotional Wisdom with Jessica Kingsley Publishers in London, as well as the current President of the International Association of Eating Disorders Professionals SF Bay Area Chapter.

How did you get started in your career? 

For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a therapist. I have to admit that I didn’t truly know what that meant until I started to do my personal growth work with my own therapist. As an intern, I worked as a School Based Mental Health Clinician, and while I loved working with a team at a school site, it wasn’t the population I wanted to be working with. I wondered if maybe I made the wrong career choice, and around that time is when I discovered the field of eating disorders. My colleague’s daughter had been experiencing medical complications that, at the time, no one understood (approximately the year 2000). She later found out the complications were the medical consequences of Bulimia Nervosa. Eating disorders were supposedly in our “scope of practice,” but neither of us remember this being covered, at any length, in grad school. We turned to the non-profit we worked for at the time, and asked if they would consider sending us to some national eating disorder conferences. They responded to us and made it possible to attend our very first NEDA and iaedp™ conferences. This was the beginning of our work in the field of eating disorders, and we have been treating them ever since. 

What advice would you give to someone new to the field? 

If a clinician finds that they have an interest in the field of eating disorders, I would advise initiating the process of  iaedp™ Certification early on (CEDS, CEDRD, CEDCAT, or CEDRN): www.iaedp.com/certification-overview/. Certification promotes a standard of excellence within the field of eating disorders and a commitment to stay abreast of current developments in the field through continuing education. 

Beth Harrell

Beth Harrell, MS, RD, LD, CEDRD-S

What is your current position? 

Director of Certification for iaedp (International Association of Eating Disorders Professionals) and private practice.

How did you get started in your career? 

Completely by accident.  I was working as clinical dietitian at an area hospital and had just come back from maternity leave.  I realized I didn’t want to be away from my new baby full time.  A part-time RD opening came about at an inpatient hospital for eating disorders.  I was one of several who had applied (none of us had experience with eating disorders back in the early 90s because it was such a new field and very little was taught in school).

What advice would you give to someone new to the field?

  1. Start supervision as soon as you know you are interested in pursuing a career in eating disorders (and never stop!  Peer supervision is invaluable throughout your career).
  2. If you have struggled with an eating disorder or disordered eating, ensure that you’ve worked through issues you have had about food, weight, and exercise so you are strong for your client. 
  3. Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate – Always work with a therapist and medical provider for diagnosed eating disorders.

Karen Wetherall

Karen Wetherall, MS, RDN, LDN

Director, Dietetic Internship, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Owner & President, Tranquil Eating Associates

How did you get started in your career?

In high school I was interested in human biology and cooking.  I was also interested in teaching. I went off to college to study nutrition, then I completed a coordinated Masters-Dietetic Internship program in Boston to become an RD. I was most interested in outpatient counseling, and I obtained a WIC job at Mass General Hospital’s (MGH) Chelsea Clinic. This expanded into counseling adults for diabetes and cardiovascular issues. I noticed that most of my clients needed to lose weight, and they had behavioral issues surrounding their eating. A few years later I obtained a job at Children’s Hospital of Boston at the Judge Baker Center which was an inpatient unit for eating disorders (ED). This was where I began to be educated about working with EDs. Although I enjoyed this experience, it was a part-time job, so when the opportunity arose for a full-time job, I went to the main campus of MGH to work in the cardiac rehab clinic. My focus with these clients was on weight management through a heart-healthy diet. However, I also joined the ED team at MGH. Every Friday the ED team would do a full day intake with a client, and the following Friday the team of MDs, therapists and RDs would discuss treatment recommendations. I also saw clients for outpatient counseling including clients with EDs. The inpatient setting at Judge Baker, and the comprehensive team approach at MGH were incredibly valuable experiences which expanded my confidence and training in working effectively with clients with eating EDs. 

Fourteen years into my career my husband moved his business to east Tennessee, and I scoped the area for my next position. Having had the experience of teaching nutrition at the Preventive Medicine course at Harvard Medical School, my husband encouraged me to check out teaching possibilities at the University of Tennessee (UT) in Knoxville. I felt fortunate to land a job as the Dietetic Internship Director. This job allowed me to join my two loves of nutrition and teaching. It has been such a pleasure to work with bright and energetic students/future RDNs. This was a part-time position, so I began a private consulting practice, Tranquil Eating Associates. There was a need in Knoxville for RDNs experienced with EDs, so my business has been steady with minimal marketing; primarily fed through relationships with therapists, MDs and other RDNs.

What advice would you give to someone new to the field?

Read books, attend seminars and workshops, join BHN (Behavioral Health Nutrition), participate on their listserv, and get at least one mentor which includes an RDN for professional supervision. 

Kayla Jessop

Kayla Jessop, RDN, CDN, CEDRD-S

Website: www.kaylajessopnutrition.com/

Instagram: @kaylajessopnutrition

What is your current position?

I am the Lead Dietitian at BALANCE Eating Disorder Treatment Center and owner of Kayla Jessop Nutrition where I provide outpatient services.

How did you get started in your career?

I started working in outpatient counseling where I helped individuals using medical nutrition therapy. Occasionally, I saw people with disordered eating and eating disorders and found that I preferred working with this population. Watching the healing process of their relationship to food and body is a very rewarding experience! After I found my interest in eating disorders, I sought out jobs that only treated eating disorders which is when I found BALANCE Eating Disorder Treatment Center. I later started building my private practice on the side. 

What advice would you give to someone new to the field?

Seek out supervision! I am very grateful to have gotten weekly supervision as it has not only helped me therapeutically, it has greatly impacted the well-being of my clients. Supervision has shaped me to the dietitian I am today. Thank you Jessica Setnick!

Michelle Lelwica

Dr. Lelwica is Professor of Religion at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, where she teaches courses on the intersection of religion, gender, culture, and the body. She did her graduate work at Harvard Divinity School, where she received a Masters of Theological Studies in Christianity and Culture (1989) and a Doctorate of Theology in Religion Gender and Culture (1996). She is the author of Shameful Bodies: Religion and the Culture of Physical Improvement (Bloomsbury, 2017), The Religion of Thinness: Satisfying the Spiritual Hungers behind Women’s Obsession with Food and Weight (Gürze Press, 2009), and Starving for Salvation: The Spiritual Dimensions of Eating Problems among American Girls and Women (Oxford University Press, 1999), as well as scholarly articles, popular blogs, and podcast interviews that explore women’s conflicted relationships with their bodies. She has also published articles and taught courses that focus on mindfulness practice and social justice. 

How did you get started in your career?

I started studying the religious and spiritual dimensions of eating disorders and related problems as a graduate student of religion at Harvard Divinity School. I was deeply disturbed to discover the negative attitudes towards female bodies that are prevalent in traditional Christian theology, and I began to recognize the parallels between the patriarchal aspects of this tradition and the images, myths, rituals, beliefs, and morality surrounding contemporary women’s pursuit of thinness. This recognition led to the writing of my dissertation on the religious dimensions of eating and body image problems, which became my first book (Starving for Salvation). My second book, (The Religion of Thinness) challenges American culture’s devotion to female thinness and is written for a broader (i.e., non-academic) audience. My most recent book, Shameful Bodies: Religion and the Culture of Physical Improvement, builds on my previous work on eating and body images problems to analyze a wider range of issues that often produce body shame, including (dis)ability, chronic pain and illness, and aging, as well as weight.

What advice do you have for someone new to the field? 

Stay open to a complex and integrative perspective on body image and eating problems—one that explores their spiritual dimensions and that thinks critically about the cultural underpinnings of these problems. This openness will foster an understanding of eating disorders as responses to human suffering that tragically create more suffering. Such an understanding fosters the compassion that is necessary for the process of healing. I urge new professionals in the field of eating disorders to investigate the spiritual needs that obsessions with food and weight thinly veil, and I would encourage them to define “spiritual needs” very broadly (i.e., in non-sectarian terms), including the need for a sense of purpose, love, inspiration, courage, community, agency, and peace.   

Erica Drewry

Erica Drewry, CEDRD, RDN, LD

Website: www.alignednutrition.com

Instagram: @alignednutrition

Facebook: @alignednutrition

How did you get started in your career?

I always liked science and I loved the idea of working with people. I started out majoring in pharmacy and quickly realized that I wanted to help people more preventatively. Once I began studying nutrition, I became obsessed with being thin and learning the “perfect” way to eat. I used nutrition information as a weapon to try and “whip myself into shape.” I wasn’t willing to go into practice for fear of infecting others with my rigid and unrealistic standards. 

Fortunately, I was able to work with a dietitian and therapist which transformed how I view nutritional science.  I couldn’t believe how much psychology was involved in changing my eating habits and self-management. 

From there, I had a clinical job and some earlier entrepreneurial stints. Gaining clinical experience was invaluable to me and exposed me to eating disorders right away. I entered private practice in 2011 and haven’t looked back. Over the years, I’ve honed my niche to end up where I am today. 

What is your typical day?

Many people think they want to go into private practice while being unsure what that actually looks like. Do you work typical 9-5 hours? Do you take naps at 2 pm on a Thursday? The answer is whatever you want it to be. Consider what kind of boss you are to yourself. 

It’s important to develop systems and have a job description for yourself just like you would at a traditional job. It’s a good idea to batch your tasks and have set office hours. I resisted this structure for years (that’s why I left the hospital job – freedom!). But the truth is, you can easily work too much or completely ineffectively if you don’t develop systems and refine your tasks. You are the intake coordinator, dietitian, marketer, biller, collection agency, networker, CEO, etc. Which leads me to delegation – it’s helpful to hire professionals into your business as you grow. If you are in sessions for 6 hours and someone new reaches out to you for help, it might be nice to have someone answer/return their phone call?

In a typical day, I consider structuring my schedule, the roles I’m performing that day, developing systems for things I do more than once, and now hiring out tasks I don’t enjoy or do as well as someone else. 

What advice do you have for future nutrition professionals?

When I first started, I had no idea what supervision was. It is essentially hiring a more seasoned RD to advise you, support you, and help you learn how you show up in practice. Beyond helping you with a tough case, a good supervisor can share how to manage the emotional labor of this work and deal with your own feelings about who or what work you are doing. I recommend this to everyone whether it’s required or not. Supervision helped me not feel alone and supercharged my professional expertise and philosophy.

Learning about yourself and how to take care of yourself is essential. This goes beyond getting your nails done or taking a weekend away but being able to check in with yourself on a regular basis and meet your needs. Those needs might be rest, time away from work, making a difficult phone call, a tough decision in business, creating a policy with yourself, focusing on a specific type of client, or seeking support from a therapist.